Stepping into a role in a large movie franchise that has a huge following can’t be easy. But Brenton Thwaites seamlessly stepped onto the set of the new Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales in the role of of Henry Turner. Picking the story up, as the son of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann, Thwaites breathes new life into the movie as the new male protagonist and heart throb. We know him as Prince Phillip from Maleficent, and in his new role Thwaites brings a lot more to this character.
From sword fighting, fighting off ghosts and trying to keep Jack Sparrow under control – Henry helps relaunch the Pirates of the Caribbean story line. We had the opportunity to sit down and interview Brenton right after the premeire of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales last week, about his new role and where he sees the story going.
How did you become involved on the film?
I auditioned a multiple amount of times with Ron and Chris here in L.A., and then I met the directors at a place in Venice Beach. Then the movie got put on hold for awhile, and I re-auditioned about a year later. I met Jerry Bruckheimer and the producers, and then I got the part out of nowhere.
What’s it like stepping into such a huge role with having, Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner as your parents, and having to kinda take that story on?
I feel as though as it was kind of easier than not having them because they provided such a backstory for my character. We start the movie, Dead Men Tell No Tales with the boy version in my character, basically saying, I believe there’s a treasure that can break your curse, and I can spend more time with you. And he says, okay, well if there is, go find Jack Sparrow. He can help you find it. And so I feel like the goal and obligation for my character has already been set, and that, that kind of gives Henry a lot more drive and focus for the whole movie.
What was it like working opposite Johnny Depp and the iconic Captain Jack Sparrow?
It was terrifying. It’s still terrifying. It’s always terrifying because you never know what he’s gonna say or do, so you know, and it always results in humiliation for me. You are always entering a scene, you know, thinking this guy now is five movies worth of Jack Sparrow.He’s on the ball and you know, kind of irreverent and impulsive. You just anticipate what he’s gonna do and say. That’s great because as an actor it kind of improves your acting in the sense that you’re always open and free and relaxed to go with the flow, but also pretty terrifying.
Since filming, you’ve become a father. What is it like now you’ve done a few Disney films, that your baby’s going to see one day?
Well, it’s great being a part of Disney because as a studio, it really plays for the younger audiences. I did a movie in 2014/2012- released in 2014 called Maleficent which something I can’t wait for my daughter to see. Pirates may take a while just because it’s quite scary, you know? Maleficent is, as well, but I know there are moments in Pirates where I kinda even get scared.So I think it might take a while. I don’t know when- maybe until next year when she’s two.
So you came in the fifth movie, and you know, you’re a real newcomer to this whole universe, and do you think they valued your input as a newcomer, as an actor?
You know, I think they did value my input as an actor- as an newcomer. There were so many different characters coming into this one to make it a fresh new thing. I think all the old-school dudes really wanted to make it fresh and exciting. It’s something they hadn’t done before. So Javier coming on board, myself, Kaya, and the two new directors who- that primarily done independent films were kind of supported and encouraged on this one.
You were recently named the breakthrough performer of the year. How does that feel?
It’s great. When I first heard of CinemaCon and attended to get that award, I had no idea what it was, to be honest. I did a bit of research and looked at the guys that had received that award in the past five/ten years and kinda just went, wow, I don’t think I’m in that caliber with those guys. But just to be even considered or, you know, thought of in that same group of actors is really exciting.
What was it like when you first walked onto the set and see it all? What were you thinking; what were your emotions?
I was thinking, “Wow, it’s really rained,” because my first day on the set, it had been pouring for months or weeks.The town of Saint Martin which was a farm town called Maudsland, which was about twenty minutes west of the studio, was covered in mud. Everything was- they kinda used it in the movie which is really cool and dramatic, and adds to the dirtiness of the pirate’s world, but I remember thinking, like, I’m gonna have to get some new shoes.
It’s squelching and it’s like, you know, in an hour, you’re squelching around. But I had a scene where my character, Henry is hiding behind a pillar, and he’s spying on Jack Sparrow, and I remember thinking, wow, what a perfect way to start the movie, you know, and to see Jack Sparrow drinking rum in the middle of the street, and the whole, whole parade of red soldiers trying to catch him.
The visual effects are amazing. What was it like for you to see it once the film is put together and you got to see what they did?
Well, the visual effects side of things was, for this one, mostly kind of behind the actor’s consciousness. In Maleficent, it was a lot of work that we would have to do with our imaginations to kind of be specifically creating creatures that weren’t there. On Gods of Egypt, we did the same thing, but on Pirates, we were lucky because, you know, all of Javier’s makeup; all the ghosts were there. They looked fantastic.
The sets were real. You know, they had beautiful set pieces that allowed us to play and feel like we were actually in the space. The CG, I guess I was surprised to see Javier’s hair, you know.We tried to play in that a little bit more, and his jacket.It was mainly in the background, the CGI stuff which gave it this great depth of field when you watch it. But for us, we were luck that we had so much given to us on the day.
What is involved on a typical day on set? How long are your days?
Typically a day on a set for me is- I get picked up eight o’clock. I get out of the house at seven; I run down for a quick surf; I get out of the work at eight; rush home; I’m half an hour late. So my driver speeds down the highway and risks our lives trying to get to work on time. And then I get made up and sit in the trailer for five hours, and then we start working. The five hours is for logistics; sets change, and everyday there was something crazy happening. For this one they like to give the directors all the tools to play around with, and so we would, we would all come to work; Javier would get made up; Geoffrey would get in makeup, and we would all be ready in case they wanted to do some improvised shot or something. They could kinda use any actor at any time.
Did you do any special training for your role?
Just sword fighting. I had a few hand combat fights that we more or less on the day, and the sword fighting stuff, we trained three weeks before the principal photographer.
Was there anything else you had to do to get prepared for the role? It’s kind of a period piece; it’s set back in the 1790ish area.
Accent stuff. I had to do a little acting work, but I’d done it many times before, so I kind of just started right in, you know, that British RP dialect, yeah.
You had a lot of scenes with Johnny Depp. Were there things that you had to find yourself to stop laughing, laughing at him? Was he doing things to make you laugh?
Everything. Listen, if you guys look closely, me and Kaya, you know, behind the scenes are just trying not to laugh.
So we should expect, like, a lot of bloopers?
Yeah, that’s right. I was like looking down and away, laughing. I was, like, shaking.
What is your hope that audience takes away from the film?
I just hope they’re entertained, you know? This kind of movie with all the genres slotted into this two hour gap- it’s the kind of movie that never loses its drive and has so many action pieces, set pieces; comedic elements; romance; supernatural; there’s kind of something for everyone in this movie. So I hope everyone takes something from it and connects with the characters.
Speaking of set pieces, did you take anything from the set?
I didn’t, but if this ever gets back to the producer, I would’ve liked to have taken a rowboat because my mommy’s in the corner over there; I told herbefore we wrap the movie, that I would bring her a rowboat home and make a veggie garden out of it.
How many locations did you film at, and did you have a favorite location?
We shot at about five or six different locations; mainly the studios. I was talking about Saint Martins Square twenty minutes west of the studios where all the mud was. We shot there for a good month and a half, and we shot in Northern New South Wales; they had a beautiful beach. Both Hastings Point for our entrance into, our entrance into Saint Martins, I think, you know, the coastal element.
And my favorite location was up on Hamilton Island, shooting out on the Great Barrier Reef. We had some days we shot at a beach called White Haven Beach which is beautiful squeaky beach. You know, when you walk on the sand, it squeaks which is not so good for the sound, but it’s great for effect, and it looks beautiful, and I think we had the most fun right there.
Javier’s like, like a five year old kid, you know? As soon as he finishes a scene, he makes one move, stripping off and jumping in the sea, playing, and like fighting in the sand. It was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Trailer
About Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales:
Johnny Depp returns to the big screen as the iconic, swashbuckling anti-hero Jack Sparrow in the all-new “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.” The rip-roaring adventure finds down-on-his-luck Captain Jack feeling the winds of ill-fortune blowing strongly his way when deadly ghost sailors, led by the terrifying Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), escape from the Devil’s Triangle bent on killing every pirate at sea—notably Jack. Jack’s only hope of survival lies in the legendary Trident of Poseidon, but to find it he must forge an uneasy alliance with Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), a brilliant and beautiful astronomer, and Henry (Brenton Thwaites), a headstrong young sailor in the Royal Navy. At the helm of the Dying Gull, his pitifully small and shabby ship, Captain Jack seeks not only to reverse his recent spate of ill fortune, but to save his very life from the most formidable and malicious foe he has ever faced.
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” also stars Kevin R. McNally as Joshamee Gibbs, Golshifteh Farahani as the sea-witch Shansa, David Wenham as Scarfield, Stephen Graham as Scrum, and Geoffrey Rush as Captain Hector Barbossa.
Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg are directing “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” with Jerry Bruckheimer producing. The executive producers are Mike Stenson, Chad Oman, Joe Caracciolo, Jr., Terry Rossio and Brigham Taylor. The story is by Jeff Nathanson and Terry Rossio, and Jeff Nathanson wrote the screenplay. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” drops anchor in U.S. theaters on May 26, 2017.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES opens in theaters May 26th, 2017 in 3D, RealD 3D and IMAX 3D! Like PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES on Facebook and follow Walt Disney Studios on Instagram and Twitter